Tam’s attorney asks DA to drop investigation
City Councilwoman Lena Tam’s attorney has asked the Alameda County District Attorney to close its inquiry into allegations that Tam leaked confidential information to SunCal and Alameda’s firefighters union and violated the state’s open meeting law without taking action against the city leader.
Tam’s attorney, John Keker, said another lawyer hired by the city to help investigate Tam’s alleged actions failed to provide evidence she committed criminal misconduct, the standard he said would be required to invoke grand jury removal proceedings against Tam.
Keker cast Tam’s actions as the diligent – and wholly legal – acts of a committed public servant, not those of someone acting to contravene the city’s best interests.
“We respectfully submit that the Letters present no evidence of wrongdoing by Councilmember Tam, much less a basis for the draconian remedy of removal from office. These Letters appear to result from political infighting at its worst – unleashing politically damaging and baseless demands for Section 3060 proceedings without even providing the Councilmember an advance opportunity to respond,” Keker wrote to assistant district attorneys Ann Diem and Lawrence Blazer.
Keker said Tam’s alleged disclosures didn’t violate the Brown Act because they didn’t come from a closed session and weren’t privileged communications. And he said Tam’s e-mails to fellow council members didn’t break public meeting rules because they were one-way communications that the law allows. And he said blind-copying other members of legislative bodies on e-mails is “a recommended practice for local legislators seeking to avoid Brown Act violations.”
Tam is accused of blind-copying City Councilwoman Marie Gilmore on e-mails she sent to other members of the council.
Michael Colantuono, who Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant and City Attorney Teresa Highsmith hired to investigate Tam, wrote Blazer on May 26 and Diem on July 2 with his investigative findings against Tam. Blazer directed a reporter to Diem, who did not return a call seeking comment Monday.
“Mr. Colantuono’s repeated omissions of important law and facts reflect the fact that these Letters are anything but the neutral evaluations they purport to be,” Keker wrote.